A paper written by April Wang is getting a lot of buzz among SFPS educators right now. You will not want to miss it. It covers issue of bias against race and problems with equity in our district.
April Wang wrote this during her residency under the SFPS Deputy Superintendent’s supervision. It is written for “Harvard Graduate School of Education in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education Leadership.”
To read the entire paper, click here.
Here is the opening Abstract:
This capstone outlines my strategic project around increasing equity in Santa Fe Public Schools (SFPS) during the 2015-16 school year. I sought to test the theory of action that effecting technical changes and solutions around inequity the district would pave the way to effect critical adaptive changes in the future, with the hypothesis that one type of change is not possible without the other.
My strategic project consisted of two work streams. First, I led a Discipline Task Force comprised of district administrators and school staff to examine the equitable implementation of discipline practices across schools. We sought to answer three questions: Who is getting in trouble? What are they getting in trouble? Why are they getting in trouble? We found that students who are English Learners (EL), low-income, or special needs disproportionately incur disciplinary infractions. From a series of 50 follow-up interviews, we discovered that a significant negative bias toward newer immigrants exists among students, teachers and principals at many school sites.
Second, I led a Registration Study Committee and subsequently participated on a Registration Implementation Team charged with increasing the efficacy of the Registration, Scheduling and Transfers (RST) process. We sought to answer these three key questions: Who is not getting a seat on the first day of school? Who is not getting a seat in the school of their choice? Why are they not getting seats? We discovered that low-income students are disproportionately both unable to register by the first day of school and excluded from the transfers process, due to a variety of individual circumstances.
Beyond our findings around equity, I also sought to examine the conditions under which a working group is successful or unsuccessful in SFPS. I discovered that, due to an unclear hierarchy, a culture of trust and collaboration is especially important in order for teams to be functional. As a result, the district needs to implement technical changes and structures around team-building and norm-setting in order to begin the adaptive shift toward a trusting culture.